Puppy training

Holly, our border collie puppy, is four month’s old this week. She seems to grow a bit every day, but I’m always surprised to look back at ‘old’ photos of her and see how much she’s changed in such a short space of time.

Holly on her first day with us, eating my foot

Holly on her first day with us, 8 1/2 weeks old, eating my foot

When I first wrote about her on muddytracks I felt like I was always knee deep in dirty newspaper or mopping the floor. Those housetraining days are far behind us, thankfully, but puppy raising is as challenging as ever. It can also be fun and rewarding, although I’m still working out who is training who.

While she’ll never be able to talk back in kind, and she certainly employs selective hearing, here are some of the words Holly knows:

  • sit
  • stay
  • wait
  • no
  • lay down
  • get down
  • get off
  • watch me
  • good girl
  • come
  • bring
  • drop
  • give
  • go get it
  • left
  • right
  • go round (for kissing gates)
  • over
  • jump
  • run
  • bed time
  • time out
  • get down
  • no biting
  • no jumping
  • find it
  • where is it?

And the names of her toys:

  • green ring
  • spiky ball
  • tennis ball
  • chipmunk
  • green frog
  • blue bone
  • rope
  • pink rope
  • blue rope
  • kong

There are some words she probably knows but ignores, i.e. heel, here, follow me, slowly, walk nicely, don’t pull, stop pulling: basically, we haven’t got the ‘walking on a lead’ thing sorted yet. That’s still nearly forty human vocalisations that Holly definitely understands.

With that kind of intelligence, it would be impossible for a confident young thing not to try and do some training back. So far she’s trained us to let her up on the sofa, to play fetch on walks, to fetch the item ourselves on walks, to give her attention when I’m on the phone otherwise she will bark, for me not to make work calls upstairs (she’s only allowed downstairs) because otherwise she will howl.

Now I just need her to realise that I can be trained to let her upstairs if she stops emptying the waste paper bin, stealing my socks, and chewing my books and electric cables. If only she could read…

Holly exploring her garden

Holly, around 13 weeks old, exploring her garden

Looking like she owns the place

Looking like she owns the place at 14 weeks

Holly at 16 weeks looking very un-puppylike

Holly at 16 weeks looking very un-puppylike

And here's an arty farty photo to finish on

And here’s an arty farty photo to finish on

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About Yasmine

After working with horses for many years I came to my senses and got a 'proper job'. I now live in Weardale with My Taller Half, a mad border collie and 5 chickens. Still wishing I could spend all my time in the great outdoors
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9 Responses to Puppy training

  1. Zara Hamid says:

    ha ha ha, meg was just like that, she even had specific tennis balls she wanted to play with and could tell the difference if you threw her a different one. I have a feeling holly might be winning in the whos training who game!! she looks lovely, very fox like, enjoy her xxxx

  2. Zara Hamid says:

    p.s has she got blue eyes??

    • Yasmine says:

      Her eyes looked blue at first, but now they’ve turned amber. I’m wondering what she’s trained us to do that we don’t realise she’s trained us to do!

      • Zara Hamid says:

        how pretty, collies do have mad eyes. you jsut wait until she gets older, cat sdo mind control too, i think my cats think they have trained me particulary Duppie who thinks he’s a dog!!

  3. I’m a complete Collie nut Yasmin, and I’m currently having fun with my fifth Border Collie, 5 year old ‘Mist’. Border Collie’s can be challenging, especially when they get to their ‘stroppy teens’ stage around 5-6 months – they will constantly test your patience at that age, so stand by for some fun!

    The BC is a wonderful breed though, and you are so right that they start to train us! My ‘Mist’ is currently being trained as a Search & Rescue dog, and frequently ‘re-invents’ the training task for the day, e.g. she might not come all the way back to ‘indicate’ the casualty on the grounds that she can see the body and she can see me, so what’s my problem? Why don’t I just get a move on and get to the casualty?!!

    You have to be one step ahead when training these wonderful animals, but they are so rewarding. Holly has an impressive vocabulary for a young dog, and you seem to have got off to a really good start!

    Although I’m a Collie nut, we also have a cat – he seems to regard the rest of us as bonkers, charging around ‘doing things’! – could be he’s right 🙂

    • Yasmine says:

      Sounds like Mist has the right idea – maybe she’s onto the right idea and the training manual needs to be changed! 😉
      Stroppy teens start at 5 months? Oh no, I thought she’d started already. And there’s still teething to start in earnest too!

  4. Alice Bondi says:

    Great stuff! I feel some of my collie yearnings are fulfilled by reading about Holly. 25 years of having Border collies was simply fantastic and I wish it would still work in my life to have one. I never ceased to be amazed by how much they could learn when puppies – I sometimes felt I had to think up new tasks almost for the hell of it, just to keep them on their toes! But nothing beats working them with sheep, as I did for 2 1/2 years with my first one.

    I look forward to the next Holly post!

    • Yasmine says:

      Hi Alice. I’m the same with horses. Really wish I could have them but life just hasn’t turned out that way for me. Poor Holly, I keep giving her horse commands. She’s very good at longreining!
      I knew collies were bright but the speed at which she picks things up is astounding. I think it’s possible for a human to be not-bright-enough to keep border collies!

  5. backpackbrewer says:

    Hi Yasmine,

    Holly definitely has the look of a wolf to me! 🙂 She looks to have come on leaps and bounds. Barney talks to us all the time so I can empathise with the reverse training bit!

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